Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Navajo Nation sues feds to return exhumed human remains

Navajo Nation sues feds to return exhumed human remains


Saying what was taken from its lands belongs to it, the nation’s largest Native American tribe wants to force the National Park Service to return and rebury the human remains exhumed in prior years from Canyon de Chelly. In a lawsuit filed last week in federal court, attorneys for the tribe said the 1933 law establishing the national monument gave the federal government the power to administer the lands in northeast Arizona. And they said the tribe did not give up its title to the land.


Native American Sustainable Housing Initiative to build green homes on Pine Ridge Reservation


A team of faculty, students and volunteers at the University of Colorado is undertaking an investigation into the provision of sustainable housing on Tribal lands on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Under the title The Native American Sustainable Housing Initiative (NASHI), the team will collaborate with the Oyate Omnicye Regional Planning Project and Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation to establish a sustainable, affordable and culturally appropriate design which will be demonstrated on the Oglala Lakota College campus. The existing homes on the Reservation are energy inefficient, unable to cater to large numbers of residents, and regularly succumb to black mould. NASHI’s plan is to develop a concept design which is sustainable, affordable, durable and culturally relevant.


Chicago Tribune: Chief Illiniwek gone, but is new controversy brewing?


Chief Illiniwek has been gone since 2007, but the sentiment that led to the ouster of the headdress- and makeup-wearing mascot lives on at the University of Illinois nearly five years later. Emails between a professor and a school administrator have renewed an old debate on the Urbana-Champaign campus and among alumni, this time centering on the music played at Illini sporting events. In July, Robert Warrior, director of the American Indian studies program, wrote to Robert Easter, then the interim chancellor, urging an end to the "American Indian themed music" that the chief danced to and which is still used today. The emails, and those of other administrators, students and alumni, were obtained by a U. of I. alumnus under the Freedom of Information Act and shared with the Tribune.


State appeals American-Indian mascot ruling in Mukwonago


On behalf of the state Department of Public Instruction, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's office has appealed a ruling by a Waukesha County circuit judge that allowed Mukwonago High School to keep its Indians nickname and logo. The notice of appeal, filed last week, challenges Waukesha County Judge Donald Hassin's order in September that the state's effort to strip the Indians name was unconstitutional. Hassin said a DPI-conducted administrative hearing on the Mukwonago case was unfair. DPI officials offered few comments Tuesday about the issue, but it's clear that Hassin's ruling calls into question other orders that the Department of Public Instruction has handed to districts to change their American-Indian mascots or nicknames. At least three other districts in that situation underwent an administrative hearing process similar to Mukwonago's, and all were conducted by the same Department of Public Instruction official - Paul Sherman.



On a wide grassy bank of the Missouri River on the Yankton Sioux/Ihanktonwan Oyate Reservation in South Dakota, Brook Spotted Eagle stands watching five young girls raise a tepee. It's early August, and the girls are taking part in a four-day coming-of-age ceremony revived in the 1990s by the Brave Heart Women's Society. In traditional Yankton Sioux culture, everyone had a niche, a role. One of the roles of the women who were part of the Brave Hearts was to retrieve the dead and wounded from the battlefield and help the families. "In a way we are doing the same thing today with the modern-day Brave Hearts," Faith Spotted Eagle says, "bringing back our people from emotional death."


America’s first blood quantum law was passed in Virginia in 1705 in order to determine who had a high enough degree of Indian blood to be classified an Indian — and whose rights could be restricted as a result. You’d think, after all these years, we’d finally manage to kick the concept. But recently, casino-rich Indian tribes in California have been using it themselves to cast out members whose tribal bloodlines, they say, are not pure enough to share in the profits. What is surprising is not that more than 2,500 tribal members have been disenfranchised for apparently base reasons. (It’s human — and American — nature to want to concentrate wealth in as few hands as possible.) What is surprising is the extent to which Indian communities have continued using a system of blood membership that was imposed upon us in a violation of our sovereignty.


All parents have big dreams when their children start to play a sport competitively, and few are bigger than seeing their kid win the Heisman Trophy, become the first pick in the NFL draft and be named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Kent Bradford lucked out with his son, Sam, and got all three, but he insists he didn’t really try to think of Sam’s future in that way, and didn’t push him.  Sam Bradford, Cherokee, is currently in his second—and unfortunately, injury-plagued—season as the starting quarterback for the St. Louis Rams, but his father says his son played three varsity sports while attending high school at Putnam City North in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma—football, basketball and golf.


Some 1.3 million people signed a petition calling for an end to the construction of Brazil’s massive Belo Monte dam in the Amazon. A delegation of Brazilian celebrities and activists delivered the petition Tuesday to the country’s President Dilma Rousseff and called — yet again — for the immediate suspension of the controversial hydroelectric dam in Para state, located in Brazil’s north. The dam will be the third largest in the world one built, second to China’s Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River. Three Gorges has installed capacity to power 22,000 megawatts of electricity, while Belo Monte has the installed capacity to produce around 11,200 megawatts. Brazil’s Itaipu dam, the world’s second largest, has the installed capacity to generate around 14,000 megawatts.



Brazilian judge has revoked a decision that had halted some work on a massive hydroelectric dam in the Amazon jungle. Federal judge Carlos Eduardo Martins halted construction on the $11-billion, 11,000-megawatt Belo Monte Dam in September, saying it would harm fishing on the Xingu River, which feeds the Amazon. But on Friday, he ruled that construction could proceed because the Norte Energia consortium that is building the dam showed that the flow of the river would not be altered in a way that would harm the habitat of fish.


One of Ecuador's most famous rainforests, the Yasuni, is under threat from the country's oil industry. Environmental activists and local indigenous groups say if companies start drilling in the national park, it will destroy one of the world's most diverse ecosystems. But the government says it has a unique plan to preserve the park. Al Jazeera's Anand Naidoo reports from the Ecuadorean Amazon rainforest.



Jane Fonda's ancestors traded with Mohawk Indians here. One of the most powerful men in North America had his own elevated pews in the chapel. And the Mohawk dubbed "the Monster Brant" by his American foes showed that he wasn't so monstrous after all. Fort Hunter, built in the Mohawk Valley by the British 300 years ago, was a center of commercial, social and military activity for much of the 18th century before falling into disrepair and leaving behind few visible signs of its existence. This week, a team of state archaeologists is wrapping up a three-month excavation made possible by one of the region's worst natural disasters in decades.


Pope Benedict XVI has approved seven new saints for the Catholic Church, including Hawaii’s Mother Marianne and a 17th-century Native American, Caterina Tekakwitha. Benedict signed decrees Tuesday approving miracles attributed to the intecession of the seven, clearing the last hurdle before their canonizations. Benedict also signed decrees that 65 Catholics died as martyrs during Spain’s civil war and will be beatified, one step shy of possible sainthood. Tekakwitha, who lived from 1656-1680 in the U.S. and Canada, became the first Native American to be beatified in 1980.


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